Veteran advice for new youth workers: Cast vision

Series Intro
I’m very excited about the upcoming series here at Life In Student Ministry. Some of the youth ministry veterans on the Youth Ministry Mentorship Team have contributed guest blog posts on their advice for new youth workers, specifically those who have been in youth ministry for 2 years or fewer. However, the wisdom they share is applicable for all of us. I’m looking forward to sharing their insights with you over the next couple days.

I’ll start the series by talking a little bit about the importance of casting a vision for your youth ministry.

The importance of casting a vision

Every new youth worker wants to lead an effective youth ministry that reaches a lot of students for Christ. This is an admirable goal, but the way most new youth workers go about it is completely wrong.

First, they look to the “big shots” in youth ministry and try to copy what they’re doing, because obviously they’re using a proven method, right? So, the new youth worker reads, “Purpose Driven Youth Ministry,” and tries to replicate it. A couple years later they realize that they’re still having the same struggles and that not much has changed in their ministry. Frustrated, they look for something else and try to copy that, like Willow Creek’s model. Apparently the ministry system worked for them, so why not for us? But again, it leads to frustration and not the “Willow Creek” results they were looking for.

There’s nothing wrong about ministry models except the process most new youth workers take in implementing them: they try to copy the Lord’s vision for someone else’s ministry and think that it must somehow also be the Lord’s vision for their ministry.

Some of the general principles of every model may definitely apply, but the actual vision for your ministry will always be very different. Here’s why:

You are a unique individual created by God with a specific set of gifts, talents and abilities that differ from anyone else on this planet. The people in your ministry are also very unique, and so is your community and your ministry context. Even your value system is at least somewhat different from anyone else. Ministry models contain solid Biblical principles, but you are not Rick Warren or Bill Hybles. These people are leading incredible ministries because they didn’t search to copy someone else’s vision for ministry — they sought the Lord’s leading for their own ministry and then pursued it with great passion. That’s exactly what you need to do.

Spend time seeking the Lord for His direction for your ministry. This isn’t an overnight process. It takes months, maybe even years, before His vision for your ministry becomes clear and finally clicks. You need to constantly be reading His Word, being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting, and asking the Lord to share His dream for your ministry with you. And when He does, man, you will be consumed with it!

As you begin to see the vision take shape in your mind and your heart, it will become your passion to share it with others and get them on board with it. Your vision will become so compelling that it will be contagious and the people around you can’t help but want to jump on board. Before long, you’ll have a movement of people all working together to accomplish His dream for your body of believers.

That’s when you’ll see amazing things start to happen, as you seek the Lord and follow His direction for your ministry instead of whatever top ministry strategy Google brings up. No longer will you feel like you’re jumping from one program to the next, one event idea to the next cool idea, one curriculum series to something else, with no interlinking connection or direction. Everything will be moving cohesively together toward something God has laid on your heart and it will be incredible!

Read the Entire Series
The entire series can be found here as the posts are published throughout next week (starting October 14, 2008).

Posted on October 8, 2008

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